Frequency, Demographics, Comorbidities, and Health Care Utilization by Veterans with Migraine: A VA Nationwide Cohort Study

Elizabeth K. Seng, Brenda T. Fenton, Kaicheng Wang, Richard B. Lipton, John Ney, Teresa Damush, Amy S. Grinberg, Melissa Skanderson, Jason J. Sico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background and ObjectiveTo describe the relative frequency, demographics, comorbidities, and health care utilization of veterans who receive migraine care at the Veteran's Health Administration (VHA) and to evaluate differences by gender.MethodsThis study extracted data from VHA administrative sources. Veterans diagnosed with migraine by a health care provider between fiscal year 2008 and 2019 were included. Demographics and military exposures were extracted at cohort entry. Comorbidities were extracted within 18 months of the first migraine diagnosis. Health care utilization and headache comorbidities were extracted across the study period. Differences between men and women were evaluated using χ2 tests and Student t tests.ResultsMore than half a million (n = 567,121) veterans were diagnosed with migraine during the 12-year study period, accounting for 5.3% of the 10.8 million veterans served in the VHA; in the most recent year of the study period (2019), the annual incidence and 1-year period prevalence of medically diagnosed migraine was 2.7% and 13.0% for women and 0.7% and 2.5% for men. In the total cohort diagnosed with migraine, 27.8% were women and 72.2% men. Among those with diagnosed migraine, a higher proportion of men vs women also had a TBI diagnosis (3.9% vs 1.1%; p < 0.001). A higher proportion of women vs men reported military sexual trauma (35.5% vs 3.5%; p < 0.001). Participants with diagnosed migraine had an average of 1.44 (SD 1.73) annual encounters for headache. Primary care was the most common headache care setting (88.1%); almost one-fifth of veterans with diagnosed migraine sought care in the ED at least once during the study period. Common comorbidities were overweight/obesity (80.3%), nonheadache pain disorders (61.7%), and mental health disorders (48.8%).DiscussionMigraine is commonly treated in the VHA setting, but likely underascertained. Most people treated for migraine in the VHA are men. Pain comorbidities and psychiatric disorders are common. Future research should identify methods to improve diagnosis and treatment and to reduce use of the emergency department.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1979-E1992
Issue number18
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Frequency, Demographics, Comorbidities, and Health Care Utilization by Veterans with Migraine: A VA Nationwide Cohort Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this